Liberal Texas Judge Authorizes Abortions for Babies with Disabilities and Weakens Medical Emergency Exception

By Kim Schwartz, Texas Right to Life

A liberal Travis County judge ruled Friday night to weaken Texas’ exception for abortion in cases of medical emergencies, essentially rewriting state law to end the lives of preborn children with life-limiting disabilities.

This decision will likely be appealed to a higher court.

The pro-abortion group pushing the lawsuit claims that Friday’s ruling allows doctors to use their own medical judgment in these situations, which is such a wide loophole that it could allow elective abortions.

Texas Right to Life Legislative Director Rebecca Weaver responded:

“Inaccurate, pervasive, and politically-motivated media reporting, along with silence from medical associations, have misled doctors into believing that a pregnant woman must be at death’s door in order to intervene. This is not true of Texas law. The solution to this confusion is not to legislate from the bench but for the current law to be implemented appropriately by medical associations and not needlessly put pregnant women and their preborn children at risk.”

Texas law clearly permits abortion in situations where the mother’s life is in jeopardy or if she would face a serious injury because of her pregnancy. Pro-Life policies do not require the threat to be “imminent,” only that the severe medical risk be foreseeable. State law defines “medical emergency” as

“a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that, as certified by a physician, places the woman in danger of death or a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless an abortion is performed.”

Zurawski v. State of Texas alleges that the medical exemption in our Pro-Life laws, particularly in the Texas Heartbeat Act, is unclear and insufficient. The suit is brought by the anti-Life group the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of 13 women who believe they should have qualified for a medically necessary abortion but were denied.

Amanda Zurawski faced a heartbreaking circumstance in which her doctor neglected to follow the standard of care, declining to intervene until she became so sick that she could have died. The harm of such a tragedy is not due to Pro-Life legislation but the fault of medical associations and government agencies refusing to provide proper guidelines and education to physicians.

Perhaps most disgustingly, the judge and the Center for Reproductive Rights used these tragic life-threatening cases as a gateway to allow for prematurely ending the lives of preborn babies with critical health conditions. 

Judge Jessica Mangrum single handedly rewrote state law Friday night by authorizing abortions in situations far beyond what voters’ elected representatives passed. The decision endangers preborn babies with life-limiting illnesses, who are just as worthy of the Right to Life as any other human being.

Each child is uniquely precious and should continue to be protected in law no matter how long or short the baby’s life may be. The compassionate approach to these heartbreaking diagnoses is perinatal palliative care, which honors, rather than ends, the child’s life.

The loopholes added by the Travis County judge will endanger more preborn lives and ultimately will not solve doctors’ confusion about life-threatening complications; the root of the problem still lies with the misinformation spread by the media and neglect from medical groups.

Texas Right to Life continues to call for the medical associations and agencies to provide guidance and clarification to our health professionals so our state can keep protecting all preborn children while not needlessly putting their mothers’ lives at risk.